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Thursday, February 17, 2011

What If?...

What if you think losing your job is the worst thing that can happen to you?

But what if a career counselor shows you that a layoff due to a corporate takeover can lead to a better job? Here is my example of what career counseling can do to make a job search successful.

Feeling panic over losing his job and anxious about the pressure of finding a new one quickly, George contacted me on the Career Counselors Consortium website. His stated need was help in writing a new resume.

Learning as much as possible about my client, I identified George’s USP, an advertising term for “unique selling proposition,” which set him apart from his competition. I recognized possibilities that add value but that George took for granted. These included his unique skills, accomplishments, personality, passions and work style. But as Vice-President of Administration for 15 years George said, “I’ve just been doing my job.”

In counseling George to highlight accomplishments in his new resume, I was enormously impressed by his outstanding contributions. First, he had introduced a new cost-saving computer system. Second, he had hired high-performing Purchasing and Quality Control Managers. Third, he had organized and managed the weekend move of 200 employees to new offices in another building with everyone ready for business by Monday morning.

Half-heartedly, he started his job search. But he loved working at his firm, and wished he could remain even under the takeover management. Hearing this, I suggested: what if he could save his job? Would he have the courage to meet with the new CEO to present the benefits of continuing his work?

“What if he turns me down?” George asked. “Getting a ‘no’ is not the worst thing,” I said. “At least you will feel good that you presented your value, and can do that elsewhere.” We practiced a role-play of his presentation. I played the part of the CEO, and after many rehearsals George felt comfortable to schedule the meeting.

George showed the new CEO his resume with its accomplishments, and explained the results in detail. He stressed the contributions he had made to the company, and said, “I don’t want to leave. After 15 years I know where the bodies are buried, so to speak. And I know how to run an efficient operation that reduces costs and gets optimal performance from staff.”

The outcome? The new CEO rehired George with a raise of $6,000. What started as resume writing coaching became a career counseling intervention that saved my client’s job.

RUTH SHAPIRO, M.A., LMC, Former CCC Vice-President of the Career Counselors Consortium, and current Board Member